Archive for September, 2016

Sepsis: When infection overwhelms

The dangers of sepsis are more pronounced for certain parts of the population, and more likely to be caused by certain types of infections, like pneumonia. It’s vital that patients and those close to them be aware of the signs of sepsis and get immediate medical attention if it is suspected.

Need an appointment right away? Consider a virtual doctor visit

The availability of virtual doctor visits via computer or mobile device offers consumers the convenience of a remote consultation at any time, and at a reasonable cost, with the caveat that certain types of medical issues require an in-person visit. Virtual visits aren’t meant to replace every trip to the doctor’s office, but may be a good option for minor, temporary problems.

The most important health problems (and why they matter)

Robert H. Shmerling, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Data from the CDC and elsewhere examining death rates and causes shows that the most common causes of death are not necessarily the ones of greatest concern to Americans. Understanding the causes of death is important, not only because of what they may say about how we live, but also to find ways to increase longevity.

Genital herpes: The painful facts about a tricky virus

While most people know that genital herpes is transmitted through sexual contact, many people don’t realize that it’s possible to carry the virus and infect others without showing outward symptoms or even being aware that they have it. A person with confirmed genital herpes can take medication to help decrease the chances of spreading the virus. However, it’s no guarantee, so it’s best to have a frank conversation with a new sexual partner.

2 simple ways to ensure you give your kids the right dose of medicine (lots of parents don’t)

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

It’s surprisingly easy to give a child an incorrect dosage of liquid medication, and many parents do. When giving medication to a child, be sure you understand the instructions and use a medication syringe rather than a dosing cup. Take the extra time to read and think, and ask questions. These simple steps can make all the difference.

MRSA: The not-so-famous superbug

Michaela Kane


The MRSA bacteria is not uncommon, and people can become seriously ill when MRSA infections go unchecked. Unfortunately, MRSA can be particularly difficult to treat because it easily adapts to become resistant to antibiotics. Although these infections occur primarily in hospitals, they can also occur in close or crowded conditions where it’s possible to come in contact with an infected wound, or if personal items are shared. Signs of MRSA should be reported to your doctor right away. Luckily, careful hygiene and hand washing can help you avoid this troublesome infection.

Shift stress to calm: An “inner family” affair

The new book Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life proposes that the human psyche has nine life forces speaking as our “inner voices,” each with its own agenda and emotions. Learning to listen and respond to those voices can help you shift your stress to a sense of balance.

Resetting your circadian clock to minimize jet lag

Beverly Merz

Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Traveling across multiple time zones is likely to induce symptoms of jet lag, but making some adjustments before and while traveling can alleviate or minimize the discomfort. One theory suggests that a brief fast may help reset circadian rhythm.

Why we need to make it harder for parents to refuse vaccines

Claire McCarthy, MD

Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing

Choosing to vaccinate a child — or not — doesn’t just affect that child, but also undermines the concept of herd immunity that protects others in the community from the spread of certain diseases.

Thinking about joining a clinical trial? Here’s what you need to know

People enroll in clinical trials for a variety of reasons. Some hope to try a new or innovative treatment. Others hope to advance knowledge about a disease. If you’re interested in volunteering for a clinical trial, you should understand the type of study you’d be participating in and know the potential risks.